Saturday, October 26, 2002

The Internet One Week On

Well, dear Internet, I leave you for a week and see what happens. You nearly get yourself killed and people continue to plot against you. Some nice men design an RDF application that I've been wanting. And Apple go and release Java 1.4. See what other surprises you have for me in another week or so.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Unwiring Africa

A recent article on providing 2400 baud to Guinea using high-frequency (HF) radio and not 802.11. A followup to the Wired on Wireless article I posted a while back.

"If you have been making the move to wireless lately, most likely you are working with the microwave, high bandwidth frequencies of 802.11b. If so, you know that on a clear day you maybe can get a line-of-sight connection out 10 miles or so. That surely won't do for the vast distances and wild terrain we need to cover in rural Africa.

HF radio is another animal. Its longer waves roll out across the landscape, reflecting off the ionosphere to follow the curvature of the earth. This gives HF signals a range in the hundreds of miles. From Conakry to Nzerekore--IRC Guinea's most distant field office--HF easily covers a straight-line distance of over 375 miles (600 kilometers.) The road that sometimes connects these two points is, of course, much longer--a gut-slamming, spine-jamming, two-day punishment for the damned."

Euler Proof Mechanism

"The axioms are acquired from the Web and translated into a kind of logic program. The proof engine uses the resolution inference mechanism and only follows Euler paths (the concept Euler found several hundred years ago) so that endless deductions are avoided. That means that no special attention has to be paid to recursions or to graph merging."

C# and Java versions available! Having N3 in Jena 1.6 is obviously going to help this. He also is using OWL.

The actual source code is very procedural, converting it with the visitor pattern, plug in a standard RDF parser and triple store, add some visualization software and it would be very neat.

Island Data

"The unstructured data can include e-mails, chat transcripts, feedback forms, or call center notes collected from a customer...As the unstructured data is fed into the database, the software analyzes sentences and routes data into different categories, such as job applications, feedback about products or sales inquiries. With the data categorized, users can run queries to generate pie charts, graphs and other models to reveal useful information. The product uses a patented content recognition technology developed by Island Data...Insight RT customers can expect to see a return on investment in four months, according to Jones...Insight RT is compatible with various versions of Windows and Unix and integrates with existing databases such as Oracle's Oracle9i and IBM's DB2. The software is J2EE-compliant and uses XML for data interchange."

Customers include Canon and Real Networks.

Soul of the Machine

"Once a year Malte Mundt and his friends in northern Germany party like it's 1982. That's the year the Commodore 64 hit the shelves, and Mr. Mundt and the other self-described C64 freaks stage an annual bash to celebrate their beloved, obsolete computers.

Commodore memorabilia is traded. Beer flows. And most of all, games are played. Not just the dusty old ones, but new titles that hard-core hobbyists have been programming for the old machine. "

" "With one megahertz and 0.064 megabytes of memory, it shouldn't be possible to do anything, according to the multimedia hype of today," Mr. Mundt said. He takes pleasure in proving those multimedia partisans wrong. "It's fascinating what can be done with this machine.""

NyTimes Article

The trailer for Metal Dust is pretty slick.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002


You really understand the significance of Australia's place in the world when the frontpage of CNN goes from the bombing to the astronauts in the ISS about 12 hours after. Or one news report with the headline that 2 Americans were killed in the bombing (and those lesser nations can go suck eggs). The news is not to blame though it's simply peoples interest in news. I can't blame Google news for it not being the top item. If I was in America I'd be worrying about the sniper shootings and watching the prequel to "Silence of the Lambs". I'm glad I'm not there. You'd wonder how a terrorist bombing could make people resent America more? I think we absorb so much of American media that some people expect that we're part of it.

What others are saying: Tim Blair, The Blame Game, Bali and Bali Search on Daypop (lots of Whining Matildas). What they didn't: Slashdot search on Bali on September 11.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Dave Beckett Weblog, included an RDF datatyping proposal. The proposals, voting and subsequent discussion reminded a lot of trying to find the one true coding standard. Committees don't work. :-) The option I wanted, with anonymous nodes, isn't there although I'd probably go with option C or F too. F can happen later if need be.

Practical RDF

"I chatted with my Practical RDF editor, Simon St. Laurent, and we decided to open up the technical book review to my weblog readers as well as the RDF Interest Group and the RSS Developers group. "

Ercim News

Ercim News has an edition dedicated to the Semantic Web. Included are, " "The Semantic Web lifts off" which lists some current Semantic Web projects, "OntoWeb: The Thematic Network for the Semantic Web" which is an overview of the project, "Negotiating on Your Own Terms!" which outlines an adaptive hypermedia tool and "Corporate Semantic Webs" which outlines the Acacia project, CORESE Semantic Search Engine and how it's being used to produce "corporate memory". I should have a look at Notio soon.

Monday, October 14, 2002


This is another easy to install, stand-alone piece of weblogging/content management software. Among others, it uses Jetty, JSTL and Lucene to provide Wiki and blogging (rss, free-text searching, blog roll, etc) functionality. SnipSnap collaboration will include: "P2P support: different snipsnap servers host other snispspaces for fallover (DSL, cable modem) and load balancing (slashdot effect) and Meta Wiki: Integrating the content of different wikis, e.g. using a webservice where wikis could register the names of their wiki nodes and search for other wikis with the same node names, MetaWiki". It supports things like RSS autodiscovery and lots of blogging interfaces. The roadmap includes iCal and P2P support and there's a commercial version planned.

This wasn't as easy to use as Antville and it doesn't feel nearly as snappy.

Sunday, October 13, 2002

The Write Stuff

"It is perfect, as perfect as human beings have achieved. Consider these stats : the last three versions of the program -- each 420,000 lines long-had just one error each. The last 11 versions of this software had a total of 17 errors. Commercial programs of equivalent complexity would have 5,000 errors."

"One is the history of the code itself -- with every line annotated, showing every time it was changed, why it was changed, when it was changed, what the purpose of the change was, what specifications documents detail the change. Everything that happens to the program is recorded in its master history. The genealogy of every line of code -- the reason it is the way it is -- is instantly available to everyone."

Helma and Antville

Helma is a application server where you write Javascript instead of Java code. You can glue Java APIs exposed as objects in Javascript. It has skinning support and macros in templates. To get Antville running it was a matter of downloading the 3MB or so package and just running the script. Configuration was straight forward and comes with a lightweight database. Maybe one of the first tools that needs to be written is a migration tool. Scrape away! Then maybe Reptile. I'm not sure, I've still got to check out the many other blogging tools.

Saturday, October 12, 2002

Nokia 7650 vs QuickTake 200

About 5 years ago I had a play with the Apple Quick Take 200 and then there's the Nokia 7650.

Battery life: QT - 10-15 minutes, 7650 ? say 2-4 hours talk time (assume the same for taking pictures).
Memory: QT - 2 MB (upgradable to 4 MB), 7650 - 4 MB.
Picture Capture Resolution: QT - 640x480x24 bit , 7650 - 640x480x24 bit.
Make phone calls, store contact lists, compose music, calendaring, messaging, calculator, etc.: QT - No, 7650 - Yes.

7650 review and QuickTake 200 review. I'm not going to buy the 7650 (yet) and might not ever (cameras are for taking photos aren't they?). For more context I've been reading What Just Happened: A Chronicle from the Information Frontier.

Friday, October 11, 2002


"SMORE is a tool that allows users to markup their documents in RDF using web ontologies in association with user-specific terms and elements.

The aim of this software is as follows:

* To provide the user with a flexible environment in which he can create his web page without too many hindrances involving markup
* To allow the user to markup his document with minimal knowledge of RDF terms and syntax. However, the user should be able to semantically classify his data set for annotation i.e. breakup sentences into the basic subject-predicate-object model
* To provide a reference to existing ontologies on the Internet in order to use more precise references in his own web page/text. The user can also create his own ontology from scratch and borrow terms from existing ontologies
* To ensure accurate and complete RDF markup with scope to make modifications easily"

I've already downloaded it and started playing with it. It doesn't look like they are using Jena for RDF parsing and the like. It supports OWL. Creating RDF from the ontologies is very straight forward, although I'm not sure how you create reified statements yet (haven't read the Help yet that might help). Very interesting.

The Third Manifesto

This was linked of Javalobby which is unusual a one of my work mates have been going over Date's works recently. "Foundation for Future Database Systems: The Third Manifesto is a proposal for the future direction of data and database management systems (DBMSs). It consists of a precise, formal definition of an abstract model of data, to be considered as a blueprint for the design of a DBMS and a database language. Among other things, it provides a rock-solid foundation for integrating relational and object technologies.

The proposed foundation represents an evolutionary step, not a revolutionary one; it builds on Codd's relational model of data and on the research that sprang from that work. It also incorporates a precise and comprehensive specification for a method of defining data types, including a comprehensive model of type inheritance, to address a lack that has been observed by many authorities; thus, it also builds on research in the field of object orientation. With a sound footing in both camps of the object/relational divide, therefore, the Manifesto is offered as a firm foundation for the DBMSs of the future.

Significant features of this new edition include:

* Major extensions to the inheritance model
* Significantly improved language proposals
* Improved discussions of read-only vs. update operators, selectors, THE_ operators, tuple types vs. possible representations, grouping and ungrouping, first normal form, assignment, constraints, predicates, and many other topics
* All SQL discussions upgraded to the level of the new SQL:1999 standard
* Several new appendixes"

The Book's home page:

It links to Fabian Pascal's Database Debunking page (which I used to read from time to time):

Buy from today:

Thursday, October 10, 2002


The recent review of Zoe has caused a bit of interest in doing useful searches over your mail box. JOrganizer is a PIM, written in Java. It includes a mail client, contact management/address book, an RDF/RSS viewer/parser/store, Google search integration and other stuff. It's still a little too early to be useful though.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Escher Lego

I'm especially impressed with "Belvedere" and "Ascending and Descending". There's also Mobius strips.

Mandrake 9 for XBox

"A media release said a 350 MB installation CD of Xbox Linux Mandrake 9 was available for free download from the Xbox Linux Web site. It corresponds to a standard installation of the 3-CD version of Mandrake Linux, which was released a week ago, so it contains the graphical environments Gnome and KDE, as well as software packages such as, XMMS and Mozilla."

In Search of the Semantic Web

"Designed formats start out strong and improve logarithmically. Evolvable formats start out weak and improve exponentially. RSS 2.0 is not the perfect syndication format, just the best one that’s also currently practical. Infrastructure built on evolvable formats will always be partially incomplete, partially wrong and ultimately better designed than its competition." He misses out Jena and KAON RDF parsers (or even Mozilla's). Jena's ARP parser is probably conformant to a fault.

The original article is also very interesting (he quotes a lot of it in the article), "No one seeing Lotus Notes and the NCSA server side-by-side in 1994 could doubt that Lotus had the superior technology; ditto ActiveX vs. Java or Marimba vs. HTTP. However, the ability to understand what is missing at any given moment does not mean that one person or a small central group can design a better system in the long haul."

"In 5 years, DVD, HDTV, voice-over-IP, and Java will all be able to interoperate because of some new set of protocols which, like HTTP and HTML, is going to be weak, relatively unco-ordinated, imperfectly implemented and, in the end, invincible."

I seem to say this over and over, the RDF club are writing little tools that don't get used by anyone except the inner circle and the commercial players are sitting on the upper end waiting for middle managers to realise the Semantic Web is worth paying tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Someone has to produce the every persons' Semantic Web application but no one seems to be able to.

"> The existence of WSDL says very little about the design of RDF.

I agree but it says boat loads about the adoption of RDF. It is not even on designer's radar screens when they are trying to solve a problem that is easily considered the domain of RDF. Not capturing that mindshare is a key indicator that there is a problem. If you don't have mindshare, you certainly don't have adoption."

The Tragedy of RSS

Monday, October 07, 2002

How to Over-Engineer a Mug

I guess I'm incredibly boring but I found this article really interesting:

"Making things flat is an Ikea obsession. How many times can you redesign a simple fired-clay coffee mug? Ikea's Bang mug has been designed three times so far -- simply to maximize the number of them that can be stored on a pallet. Originally, only 864 mugs would fit. A redesign added a rim such as you'd find on a flowerpot, so that each pallet could hold 1,280 mugs. Last year, yet another redesign created a shorter mug with a new handle, allowing 2,024 to squeeze onto a pallet. While the mug's sales price has remained at 50 cents, shipping costs have been reduced by 60 percent, which is a significant savings, given that Ikea sells about 25 million of the mugs each year. Even better, the cost of production at Ikea's Romanian factory has also fallen because the more compact mugs require less space in the kiln.",1640,43529,FF.html

Here's a picture of the mug in question:

Saturday, October 05, 2002


"UK based Protégé Ltd has merged with San Mateo-based Voquette Inc in an all-stock deal, generating a new company called Semagix...Semagix applies patented semantic web technologies to aggregate, enhance,
integrate, analyse and manage all internal and external content. Its patented SCORE (Semantic Content Organization and Retrieval Engine) technology automates these processes and semantically meta-tags digital media of any type and format, so enabling organisations to make fast, intelligent associations between relevant content from multiple sources."

This is not the same as the Stanford Ontology tool Protégé.

They too have a paper on applying semantic technology to homeland security, with some rather spooky screen shots of detecting a terrorist (or anyone else you don't like).

Friday, October 04, 2002

OS Keynote

"Pogue put up a screenshot of Mac OS 1.0. The picture showed an entire OS, application, and application data fit on a single 400K floppy disk with room to spare. The OS took up 211K. "You couldn't put the Mac OS X logo in 211K!" he quipped.

Later, Pogue showed the crowd an exclusive movie. Back in the dark days when Apple killed off the Newton PDA, they ended up with a surplus of Newton modems. What to do with 4000 modems? Simple: Modeminos!

The movie -- made by Apple employees and sent exclusively to Newton developers -- showed the workers building an elaborate multi-room "domino" chain by standing the rectangular modems on end and then tumbling the 4000-piece chain in a grade finale. Hilarious. The video concluded with the Apple 6-color logo and the tagline: "Apple. The Power to Say Buh-bye!""


"The Sun is overheating and will soon blow up . . . taking Earth and the rest of the solar system with it, scientists warn.

The alert was issued after an international satellite photographed a massive explosion on the surface of the Sun that sent a plume of fire 30 times longer than the diameter of Earth blasting into space."

From Mike Meyer's, "So I Married an Axe Murderer":
"1.Stuart, bring in the paper. 2.Mom, I find it interesting that you call The Weekly World News *the paper*. A paper contains facts."

Funniest Joke

"Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy takes out his phone and calls the emergency services.

He gasps: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator says: "Calm down, I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a gunshot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says: "OK, now what?" "

No cheese humour, but ducks are funny.

Thursday, October 03, 2002


This is another XMI enabled tool. Draw, mix, run:
"EMF is a modeling framework and code generation facility for building tools and other applications based on a structured data model. From a model specification described in XMI, EMF provides tools and runtime support to produce a set of Java classes for the model, a set of adapter classes that enable viewing and command-based editing of the model, and a basic editor. Models can be specified using annotated Java, XML documents, or modeling tools like Rational Rose, then imported into EMF. Most important of all, EMF provides the foundation for interoperability with other EMF-based tools and applications."

Would go well with the UML2DAML tool.

Eclipse now also support COBOL development...hanging out for that one:


In the coming week or two I hope to have a bit of a shoot out of P2P architectures. My new favourite of the day is:


"Direct Internet Message Encapsulation (DIME) is a lightweight, binary encapsulation format that can be used to encapsulate multiple payloads of arbitrary type and size into a single message. DIME is ideal for encorporating binary attachments into any XML-based protocol. "

This is an implementation of the DIME internet draft.

Government P2P

"The network, dubbed the Infrastructure for Resilient Internet Systems (IRIS), will speed up searches and information transfer over the internet, and aims to foil "Denial of Service" attacks by hackers - in which a web server is swamped with requests for a page until it crashes."

"IRIS is being designed specifically to solve these problems. Its three design criteria are to guarantee:
• that as long as there is no physical break in the network the target file will always be found;
• that adding more information to the network will not affect its performance;
• that machines can be added and removed from the network without any noticeable adverse affects. "

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Thunder Stealing

Aaron Swartz has outlined some semantic web projects but is worried that people will steal those ideas, implement them and take the credit. What he has is something that sounds a lot like other P2P system (not the popular ones though), a UI that isn't hierachical (I liked polyarchies) for storing notes, a Python library backed onto an RDF persistance layer, and hyperliterate programming (maybe something like Maven's, specifically XRef). I'm afraid stuff won't be implemented so for the six people that read my ideas please steal my thunder!

A lot of companies that are doing the Semantic Web like products (knowledge management, text mining, persistent layers, document management even) seem to be taking the high-right strategy. While the early developers have done tools for themselves (Java APIs, ontology management, etc) there's not much for the end user. So I do hope some idea is implemented and some of this stuff gets into everyones hands (like Apple tries to do with iBooks and eMacs now).

The Whole, General Mish Mash

"Latent semantic indexing adds an important step to the document indexing process. In addition to recording which keywords a document contains, the method examines the document collection as a whole, to see which other documents contain some of those same words. LSI considers documents that have many words in common to be semantically close, and ones with few words in common to be semantically distant."

A very clear explanation for extracting concepts and seeing which documents are related to others.